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Sony HT System Sports Wireless 2nd-Zone Audio

6/16/2008 02:00:00 AM Eastern

Sony launched its second home theater audio system with speakers whose baffles are only about 2 inches square, and adds wireless two-zone audio, optional wireless-surround speakers and other improvements.

The HT-IS100 Bravia Theater Micro System, shipping July at an expected everyday price of $699, consists of five "golf-ball-size" speakers and a floorstanding subwoofer/electronics module, which incorporates system controls, subwoofer driver, AM/FM tuner, amplification for all channels, surround processor and connections to A/V sources and to an included iPod cradle.

The subwoofer/electronics module can be tucked out of sight because it can be controlled from a handheld IR remote that sends control signals to an IR repeater embedded in the center-channel speaker.

The IS100 joins the $799 DAV-IS10, which is similarly configured and uses the same-sized speakers but adds a small set-top single-disc DVD drive with 720p/1080i up-scaling.

In other differences, the new model adds 1080p HDMI 1.3 inputs with HDMI repeater function, whereas its predecessor featured 1080i inputs. The new model also adds S-AIR wireless multisource and two-zone capability, which delivers stereo audio wirelessly to an optional amplified speaker client in another room.

To add the second zone, consumers attach a $49.99 transmitter/receiver and purchase the $119 one-piece Air Station, a one-chassis amplifier/speaker client. The client selects and controls the main system's AM/FM tuner, docked iPod or other devices connected to the system's digital media port. Such products could include a Sony Net Walkman headphone MP3 player docked in a connected Net Walkman cradle. Another could be an optional DLNA-certified Wi-Fi adapter that stream music and photos from a networked PC.

The client won't stream music playing from a connected CD/DVD player or other external audio source.

To make the surround speakers wireless, consumer can opt for a $179 S-Air transmitter/receiver package.

Both models feature HDMI up-conversion of analog video sources; included iPod cradle; Digital Cinema Auto Calibration for automated speaker calibration; portable audio enhancer technology to boost the fidelity of compressed music; Bravia Sync to synchronize the operation of other Bravia products in a home theater system; HDMI inputs; and a digital media port to connect the iPod cradle and other options, including a stereo-Bluetooth audio adapter to reproduce music streamed from Bluetooth-equipped cellphones and MP3 players, and a DLNA-certified Wi-Fi adapter to stream music and photos from a networked PC.

Although the new model connects to Blu-ray players via HDMI 1.3, it doesn't decode the full suite of surround-sound formats approved for use on Blu-ray discs.